Puente Romano de Córdoba
Bridge and Historic Site in Córdoba
The Puente Romano or Roman bridge is a bridge across the Guadalquivir river, in the city of Córdoba, Andalusia, in Spain. Originally built in the early 1st century BC though it has been reconstructed at various times since. Most of the present structure dates from the Moorish reconstruction in the 8th century. The view of the Cathedral Mosque, the river, the Puerta del Puente and the Roman Bridge of Córdoba, make up one of the most exquisite views of the city, especially if you visit it at sunset.
The Roman Bridge of Cordoba is the bridge located on the now mud-brown Guadalquivir River, which is 408 miles long. Guadaquivir comes from the Arabic word wadi al-kabir, meaning “great river.” In Roman times, it was possible to sail from Cordoba to the river’s mouth near Cadiz on the Atlantic coast. Today, only part of the river near Seville is navigable
that joins the Campo de la Verdad with the city through the Barrio de la Judería.
It was also known as the Puente Viejo or Old Bridge, since it was the only bridge that Córdoba had during 20 centuries, until the construction of the San Rafael Bridge in the middle of the 20th century.
What does the Bridge look like?
It houses a length of about 331 meters and is made up of 16 arches, although the Roman bridge originally had 17. It consists of sixteen arches, four pointed and the rest is semicircular.
Short History of the Roman bridge of Córdoba
Cordoba was originally an Iberian settlement that was deeply influenced by Carthaginians. The Romans, primarily under a general and politician called Metellus, captured the town in the 1st century BC. Emperor Augustus (27 BC-14 AD), made Córdoba the Colonia Patrici and the capital of the province of Hispania Ulterior or Further Spain, and it became extremely prosperous because of its natural resources. At this time a stone bridge was built by the Romans here, perhaps replacing a previous wooden one.
It was one of the most important means of entry to the city from the southern part of the Iberian peninsula as it is the only point to cross the river without using a boat. It probably was part of the the Via Augusta, which connected Rome to Cádiz.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the Visigoths created a powerful kingdom in Iberia. In the the year 720, a combined Arab and Berber army invaded Iberia and what is now modern Spain became part of the Umayyad Empire. At this time we find references to the first great reconstruction of the now some what dilapidation bridge, by the Muslim governor Valí Al-Samh ibn Malik al-Khawlani. At this time many elements of Islamic design were added to the original Roman structure and according to the Arab geographer, in 1140, Al-drisi the bridge ‘surpasses all other bridges in beauty and solidity’.
The bridge also played a vital role in the city’s battles against the armies of Seville’s Peter the Cruel in the 1350s.
In the Middle Ages, the Calahorra defensive tower is built at its southern end as a watchtower for the bridge and the Puerta del Puente was built at its northern end. The latter was made by the architect Hernán Ruiz II in 1572, erroneously called by the Cordovan people as the Arc de Triomphe , despite the fact that it never had this function, but was one of the gates of the old wall. The bridge was reconstructed and expanded to its current size. The arches depict the famous Moorish architecture that dominates the city’s scenery.
In more recent times, the Roman Bridge became the access into the city for travelers who came from the south of it, so it stood at the door of the Bridge the octroi south of the city (office to entry of the populations in which the consumption rights were paid ). In addition, the Bridge was an integral part of the N-4 national highway , being crossed by travelers coming down from the center of Spain to the south and vice versa.
On May 1, 2004, it was converted into a pedestrian bridge, after the construction of the San Rafael bridges in 1953 and the most recent Miraflores in 2003, prohibiting motorized traffic from its first vehicles almost a century ago.
The bridge was extensively restored in 2006.
Best Guided Tours of the Roman Bridge
There are a couple of tours that include a visit to the Roman Bridge. These are our recomended ones:
What to see at the Roman Bridge?
You can walk over the Roman bridge in either direction and it is located close to the great Mosque. There are good views of bridge and the river from south bank. Downstream from the bridge, level with the little islands, you will see the Molinos Árabes (mills).
Torre de Calahorra
At the South end is the 12th century Torre de la Calahorra. The tower is a fortified gate built in 1369 to guard the entrance to Córdoba, was built in an Islamic style. It consists of two towers connected by a central cylindrical tower and is almost 100 feet high (30m). In 1369 it was restored by King Enrique II of Castile to defend the city from attacks by his brother, Pedro I the Cruel.
It was originally Moorish, but was adapted into a Christian stronghold in the 15th century.
The restored tower is the seat of an interactive museum the Museo Vivo de Al-Andaluz or Land of the West. Its purpose is to present the common, everyday life of three great cultures in the Middle Ages, whose representatives inhabited Cordoba at the time. Climb the narrow staircase to the tower’s summit for a nice view of the Roman Bridge and city on the other side of the Guadalquivir.
Archangel San Rafael
In the middle of the 17th century, plague broke out in the city. When it finished, an statue of Archangel San Rafael was located at the centre of the eastern side of the bridge, the work of the sculptor Bernabé Gómez del Río. Underneath it, there is a white marble plaque that reads: “To the great glory of God and cult of our Saint Guardian, the guild of tanners and glove makers renewed this holy image… 10th September 1789”. It is usually surrounded by lit red candles as Many Cordobans make a short stop here for a prayer and place a candle or flowers here.
On the other side of the bridge opposite the Archangel San Rafael, is an area dedicated to San Acisclo and Santa Victoria, patron saints of the city.
Puerta del Puente
During the 16th century, the local municipality erected a Renaissance gate, the Puerta del Puente. Puerta del Puente, which bears the city’s crest, stands at the other end of the bridge and offers expansive views of the area from its balcony. Nowadays no longer a gate, of course, the Puerta del Puente is more reminiscent of a triumphal arch. Built in the 16 century, its design is classical, with large Doric columns, an entablature, a frieze and a curved frontispiece decorated with a coat of arms supported by two warriors. There’s a 1 € fee to get to the top.